Sunday, October 28, 2012

Cyber-Bully...I Delete You!

Bullying is a scary topic to write about but after stewing on it and hearing about it on the local radio show the other day, I decided to throw caution to the wind and prepare for some of you to really hate what I have to say on the subject.  This is all my opinion and how I personally feel about the topic and if your child is going through some type of situation at school that is hurtful I am very sorry and I am almost certain you'll not appreciate some of my thoughts on this topic.  And to be clear, I feel that bullies do, in fact, exist.  But in my humble opinion there is only one type of bully - the "real" bullies intend to inflict physical harm on others and usually target those that they can over-power easily and it's usually on a daily basis.  That includes intimidation to the point that one feels unsafe and scared for their physical well-being or their lives.  This can only happen face to face.  I do NOT believe in cyber-bullies or the "verbal"-bully (again, that excludes threats of pain or death...I won't keep clarifying that throughout this post).  Yes, one can be threatened online but if that happens more than once and you didn't report it then that is your shortcoming.  I am going to try my best to state my case about why there's no such thing as a cyber-bully.  I wrote some of this earlier in a response to a post on Facebook but I have added some thoughts and wanted to write a lot more and Facebook is not the platform to write every single thing you want to.  Social networking sites are like blogs with ADD - you have to say things quick...and that can be trouble if you need to explain something.  

I'm afraid that people are confusing teasing and name calling with bullying. Those two things whether face-to-face or via text messages and social networks is not bullying. It's stupid, ugly, mean and hurtful I know, but unless someone threatens your life then it's just something to be ignored. Now, if someone uses the Internet as a platform to threaten your life or your child's the police!  Duh.  Use the hard proof that the psycho sent you or your child via online or phone. If you don't, you would be letting the idea of the cyber-bully manifest itself into reality by not taking immediate action.  It doesn't make them less liable for their threat, but it does put the burden on you to contact the proper authorities to have them dealt with immediately and correctly.  I said in my Facebook post that if this happened to your child don't even bother going to the other parents without talking to the authorities first - that's futile most of the time. For one, if that physical threat wasn't an empty one you've just allowed more time for your child to get injured.  Secondly, it's in most of our [parents] nature to believe that our children don't have an evil bone in their body. Most likely the parent you're confronting will feel it necessary to make an attempt at swaying you to believe that it was a joke or a prank or even taken out of context by the victim.  Even more probable is that the child that sent the threat will concoct a story about how your child did it first but they can't find the email, text or post.  Oh!  And the old saying that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree comes to mind.  Just to be clear, I do feel that the child that made the threat is indeed a bully but he or she is using what ever means necessary to bully their victim.  Once again, online physical threats should only happen once (my apologies for repeating that again, but it's an important point).  I guess what I'm sort of unsuccessfully trying to say is that sadly people say hurtful things all the time, but it escapes me how just because there's more ways to "reach out" to others these days that it's somehow more mentally damaging than it was when I was a teenager.  Depression caused from someone else's words is an indicator that there is more going on with the depressed child than some schmuck that has nothing better to do that throw out insults. 

On the topic of  cyber-things...if you are going to buy your child Smartphones, iStuff, laptops, etc then it's your responsibility to monitor what is being sent from your child to others, coming in, texted, Googled, etc EVERYDAY if necessary (okay, maybe everyday is a bit much...but at least every week). Check passwords and histories - that's your job as a parent. Sure, it's a pain in the butt to do that all the time but you signed up for that when you allowed your offspring to cart the Internet around in their pockets.  Text messages?  Well, they should never be deleted without your permission.  Will they try, yes; can you tell a text has been deleted?  Yes, yes you can.  Call your carrier.  Sometimes your children just don't want you to dislike one of their friends because of the language they used when texting your!  Language isn't the issue at some point - it's context.  Our rules in this house are simple and if you break're sincerely going to hate life for a long, long while.  Here are ours (not to say ours are perfect but it works up in this joint):  you may not, under any circumstances change any passwords without discussing it with at least one parent first.  If you change your password and "forgot" to tell us you'll be punished.  By the way, for all of these rules I'm listing, how ticked-off we are directly effects how severe and how long that will be. Anyway, back to the list.  You may not delete any sent or received texts without asking; you may not delete your browser history (I may not be as hip and with the times as my youngin' but I have the patience to figure out several different ways to see where she's been); you may not create a social network account without my approval and that includes giving us your password, "friending" us, and answering any questions we may have on who you accept as a friend on that site.  These rules will stand until my child is paying for her own devices.  Her father and I purchase items and we LET her use them at our discretion.  That's up to and including her bedroom door.  So, go have fun and try not to screw it up!  But seriously, these rules are put in place for our child's safety and our peace of mind.  I've said in previous posts that whether or not you want to believe it, your child does not tell you everything little thing.  You should know if your child is being sent mean or inappropriate things...or sending them out.  Get a grip and realize that kids aren't perfect -no one is. And if your child is being a little person, then DO something about it!  I do judge your parenting if you let your child continue to be a jerk.  I know I'm judged on my daughters behavior! Besides, I've seen what your child texted to my kid and you may be surprised as to what they are sending to others.  Here's a little tip - consider reminding your kids, good and bad alike, that when they text it, email it, post it, etc what they sent out is no longer in their control and they can never completely get rid of it.  I can promise you that there are many parents like me that see it.  Just sayin'.

My point to that huge diatribe about monitoring your child as much as possible is because it also clues you in to whether they may be getting hurt feelings (not bullied, these are just words on a screen) by what they are seeing or receiving from others.  And if your child can't go to school or becomes depressed because of what they get via text or see on places like Facebook then I'm quite sure they aren't mature enough to handle having access to these platforms. Even as adults we see posts on places like Facebook that kind of hurt our feelings but we aren't so torn out of the frame that we can't function or go to work.   Teach your child self-worth, self-respect and to respect others and don't assume other parents are doing the same. This is just life and you can only teach your child how to do the best they can so once they are on their own they can continue making well thought out choices. Know your child and know if they aren't mature enough to handle the Internet. They don't HAVE to have texting capabilities or a Facebook account. Truth.  I have a particular example in mind because it happened to someone that I've met a few times.  The mother [acquaintance] was so upset that her daughter could get "bullied" like she did and wanted punishments passed all around.  I truly wanted to feel sorry for this lady and her kid but in all honesty I secretly questioned her parenting abilities.  Her daughter decided to take a picture of herself for her boyfriend (need I say anything more than the only splash of color in the picture was her irises?  Not that he even knew she had eyes in that picture - she coulda had the head of a squirrel photo-shopped in there for all he knew) and text it to him.  Well, being that they were somewhere in their low-teens you can imagine how long the relationship would last.  Helllloooo, teens are fickle at best - hell, they don't even like the same foods from one day to the next.  So, as fate would have it they broke up.  Shocking, I know.  Does anyone want to guess what happened with the texted picture?  Anyone?  To complete my bewilderment of why this mom wasn't kicking her daughters well-formed behind everyday for at least a year, this is what said acquaintance let fall out of her lips last..."this was a private picture only for his eyes to see!  How could he show it to his team mates?  What is wrong with this boys parents?  They should be checking to make sure he's not  texting private matters to his friends?!  I think they should all be suspended! This is bullying and it should not be tolerated at home or school".  Say whaaaat?  As my acquaintance was spewing judgement all over the ex-boyfriends parents...she didn't realize she was describing herself.  See, the boy did whatever any red-blooded teenage boy would do - "y'all wanna see something cool?".  It's just like any magazine picture - once you take out the emotional relationship it's just a picture.  Down the line one parent was actually doing their due-diligence and found it on their sons phone as did one of his friends unhappy girlfriend...she had a lot to say about how she felt about that picture and how convenient that Facebook allowed her to reach the masses. Do not confuse catty teenage bitchiness with bullying.  As a forty year old woman I would, had I less tact, want to do the same to the girl that got naked on camera...I'm just old enough to know better.

Make no mistake, this post is only about the cyber-bullies and I am well aware of the distinct differences between the many forms of bullies and bullish behavior that should be addressed. If you don't know whether or not your child is being bullied no matter the platform, use your common sense, talk to your child and use your resources.  Words are just words and they don't define anyone.

And be careful how many battles you fight for your child as well - you may be stealing valuable tools from them for the future.


  1. I'm glad I didn't have to deal with the Internet when my daughters were under my care. They had the face-to-face and notes in social situations to deal with.
    Good advice.
    ♥ Mama Mia

  2. The Internet is a beast but you don't have to let it ruin your life. Own your actions and ignore the hate.
    ❤ Barbara

  3. Thanks, thanks, thanks, Barbara.
    As a 77 year old grandmother of an 11 year old granddaughter, Jane, = I HAD NO IDEA THAT THE THINGS YOU BLOGGED ABOUT WERE GOING ON.

    I am horrified.

    I learned so much from your blog and will be printing it out to discuss with Sarah, my daughter. I'm hoping she's aware of all this. Jane is the 6th grade and does not have her own phone.

    WOW !
    Love, Love

  4. Barb, I didn't know what to say at the bottom and I didn't want to sign my name. I'm hoping you can guess who I am

  5. I know who you are! I'm so glad that you could take something away from my post!! Thank you so much for your sweet praises too. When Jane does get that phone...due diligence is key. That's our job as parents!